Early in life, Aspen grew wings for art and poetry, winning numerous contests and developing his own style of expression. Aspen had a special, spiritual connection with feathers, which also poured over into his art. He later fell into his true strength of music. He began The Dirty Birds thinking it was a pop/blues band. I informed him it was more like dirty country (alt country had not been coined yet), and the very next band practice he showed up dressed like fucking Roy Rogers. The Dirty Birds went on to make two albums: Thinglesing and Mama’s Cafe. He left his fellow musicians with an excellent, unfinished album, and a slightly narcissistic but equally excellent screenplay about his life.

He found “the needle” too early in life, which ultimately lead to his untimely death. He never really had a chance that way. He really loved the finer things in life: beautiful women, steaks, fancy cigarettes and drugs. Aspen poured himself into his art with whatever means possible, even to his own demise. They say “no junk, no soul,” and they may be right.

Aspen loved his children, Sean and Aria. He spent 13 years away from his son, and when they were reunited, they were the best of friends. We all took his death very hard. Time helps, but never really fully heals. The single thing that hurts me most: No one on this earth is as capable of understanding my dark side, my love of sappy songs, or my handwriting. We didn’t always see eye to eye, get along or even keep from beating the shit out of each other, but I love you and miss you (we all do).

Save a good spot for me in heaven for a long, long time from now, you Dirty Bird! With love from your little brother and everybody else who loves you, rest in peace, Aspen.

–Nate Padley (little bro, big fan)